One week before I celebrated my very first Ciscoversary, the world changed. Our teams in Israel, like many at Cisco and across the globe, faced a new reality: working entirely from home.
Many of my Cisco colleagues worked remotely prior to this global change, but many of us (myself included) did not. It was during this time that I learned a lot of new things about myself, my skills, and my ability to adapt to any working environment.
At the beginning, working from home sounded like a dream come true. In my head, I ran all kinds of scenarios of what it would look like – easier mornings with no commute, random cuddle sessions with my dog in the middle of the day, and not having to rush back home at the end of the day to make it to my evening workout in time. As I had no children at home, there seemed to be no disadvantages as far as I could see. And, really, who would have thought that working from home would become our routine?
As time ticked on, however, I began to experience the challenges that many remote employees experience at one time or another.
The first challenge I experienced was the difficulty in separating my “working” and “off” hours. Before I began working remotely, it was clear that my workday would start when I arrived at the office, and it would end whenever I got back home for the day. But in the first few months of this new world, I found myself sitting in front of my computer at 10PM or answering emails early in the morning. Suddenly, there was no cut off between my personal and professional life.
I knew I had to change this, so I established a new routine. I now wake up every morning at the same time, take my dog for a walk, jump in the shower, get dressed, and grab my coffee, a huge bottle of water and two dates all before starting my workday. This really helps to start my day off on the right foot.
Then came my second challenge in working from home – this time, it was a social aspect. I had been so focused on my work and finding a new routine, that I almost didn’t realize I really miss my coworkers and our small talks!
When you’re at the office – drinking coffee together or chatting on the way to the next meeting – it all happens naturally, and you don’t understand how crucial it is. At home, all these naturally built in moments were gone, and it occurred to me that whether you are home alone or sharing the house with other people – our social activity in this time had been drastically reduced.
I knew I had to change this, too as I saw it not just affecting me personally – but also my morale throughout the workday. I picked three of my closest coworkers and set up a 30-minute one-on-one Webex meeting with each of them the following week. Immediately, I saw the importance of these calls – and these human connections!
When I opened my camera (something I normally don’t do) – it was so relaxing and comforting to see my friends as if they were right there next to me. We caught up on how we were feeling, what we had for lunch and, of course, what we were binging on Netflix the weekend before.
As the meetings ended, they asked me to set up another one for the following week! What I thought would be a one-time occurrence, has now become weekly meetings that I look forward to. These brief calls fill me with so much energy and positive vibes – I don’t know why I waited so long to start them!
This is something I would highly recommend – find a routine that works for you and incorporate moments that bring you joy throughout your workdays (I’m happy to report that cuddles from your pets do count here!). Then choose a co-worker or two to connect with weekly or bi-weekly on a Webex call to help you stay connected!
These few small shifts can help you to overcome remote work challenges and help you to stay connected in difficult times.
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